Fallout: New Vegas Guide

Why and how you should learn to love the Varmint Rifle for Fallout: New Vegas

Why and how you should learn to love the Varmint Rifle


If you hate the varmint rifle and dump it as quickly as possible, read this guide. If you love it, read it just in case.


Alright, I get it. Not all of us fell in love with the varmint rifle as soon as you’re told to go blast some sarsaparilla bottles with it. It looks kinda dingy and you’re itching to replace it with something that has a bit more bang to it. I’m not gonna argue that it’s a fantastic weapon, but it’s better than the mediocre first impression it makes.

The courier ready to pop some powder gangers with his night scope varmint rifle.

Look, no one actually cares for stats in guides if the wiki already provides them, so I won’t bother with that. But let me list some facts real quick anyways:

  • You’ve probably heard of Ratslayer and you know it’s good. It’s better than the good old ‘mint rifle in every way. But considering you’re not gonna get the Ratslayer early in your playthrough, the varmint rifle works well enough.
  • The varmint rifle is a bolt-action rifle. That means it fires rather slowly. You might not like that. Too bad, you have to learn to aim.
  • The varmint rifle uses 5.56 ammo which is cheap and plentiful and epic for reasons I will explain later.
  • Sneak is love, sneak is life.
  • The varmint rifle has 3 mods available: silencer, extended mags and night scope. With the night scope you basically have a really neat low level sniper rifle. It might not kill deathclaws like the anti-materiel rifle does but it works well to get long range picks.
  • Trigger discipline is a trait for real intellectuals, fast shot for idiots. You don’t need a higher fire rate, you need accuracy to hit those snipes.


Cheap mods

The extended mags, silencer and night scope have a base value of respectively 75, 100 and 125 caps. This is great value for your money. They’re also all stocked by Chet in Goodsprings (even if it might take a few inventory resets).

5.56 ammo is great

5.56 is early game ammo but it does NOT play around. It’s a round that will serve you well through the whole game, from the humble varmint rifle to the mighty Bozar and All-American. It’s readily available and most importantly; it has an armor piercing variant. This is a crucial advantage the varmint rifle has over the cowboy repeater (which is usually the go-to rifle after the varmint rifle). The varmint rifle does a good job punching above its weight when packing armor piercing rounds.


It’s not the most accurate gun out there, but it’s good enough. If you’re crouching and aiming outside of VATS you can hit shots consistently at long range. Even though the fire rate is rather slow, you do lose accuracy when shooting at “full speed”. If you’re sniping with the varmint rifle, take some time between shots. A good early game place to test the varmint rifle’s sniping abilities is the NCR Correctional Facility. Sneak headshots are very powerful, though sometimes a body shot will be safer.

Easy to repair

The varmint rifle has a decent durability and a slow rate of fire, meaning you don’t burn through durability like with some other early game weapons (looking at you, 9mm smg). You’ll find plenty of spares early game. Getting it repaired or buying a new one for the sake of repairing costs very little because of its low value in caps. All in all, the varmint rifle is very low-maintenance.


Alright, it’s not significantly lighter than most rifles (even .5 heavier than the cowboy repeater) but with both the rifle and its mods being so cheap and not too much of a burden on your carrying capacity, you can easily afford to carry a dedicated sniper varmint rifle and a normal one, as the scope can be unwieldy for close range combat.

Lasts longer than than you’d expect

You should get the following right:

  • knowing when to pull out a secondary weapon (preferably a pistol or SMG)
  • get plenty of damage and kills at long range
  • sneak a lot
  • use armor piercing rounds when needed
  • don’t be afraid to cheese a bit with VATS, easy headshots in close range are a blessing

If you do this, then the varmint rifle will serve you well for a few more levels than when you usually replace it. The varmint rifle will work well up to roughly level 10, when you will really notice its performance dropping off against increasingly stronger enemies. But holding on to your trusty varmint rifle up to that level instead of swapping it for a cowboy repeater at level 5 feels oddly satisfying.

Closing notes

Hopefully this guide enlightened you on the greatness of this underrated weapon, make sure your friends know aswell. If you have any ideas for future guides let me know in the comments.